Sacred Lima: the fall of the pre-Inca huacas in the city

Sacred Lima: the fall of the pre-Inca huacas in the city

On the corner of a street, under a garbage dump at a construction site, the pre-Inca archaeological sites abound in Lima, where the ruins of hundreds of sacred palaces, or 'huacas', Are at the mercy of urban growth and public indifference.

In the middle of the residential district Miraflores, one of the best restaurants in Lima opens on the terrace of an ancient pyramid, offering good food in a 1500-year-old place bathed in artificial light.

Huaca in a residential neighborhood of Lima

Huaca Pucllana, the archaeological star of the city, has been impeccably preserved thanks to an agreement with the restaurantBut the rare public-private initiative is an exception to the rule.

About three kilometers away, in the densely populated neighborhood of Chorillos, a sign marks the existence of a “intangible archaeological zone”. Its base is full of garbage. A small catholic shrine stands in the middle of the huaca, constructed "thanks to the board”From the local mayor, as some signs say.

There is no record to keep track of the huacas (which comes from the Quechua word ‘wak’a'Which means sacred place), but archaeologists say that more than 300 of these adobe structures they are distributed throughout the city, which has nine million inhabitants.

Most of the huacas are officially the cultural heritage of the nation, but the area around them cannot be touched or delineated.”Laments Cristian Vizconde, an archaeologist who leads the project in the largest deposit in northern Peru. "This omission allows developers and squatters to invade them or mayors to build parks or golf courses on them.", He says. And where the huacas have not been designated as cultural heritage, "have virtually disappeared", He says.

On the one hand, there is nothing new: Lima is expanding due to its growing economy, paving on the old foundations with a do not stop construction, just as it always has.

The archaeologist Elías Mujica recalls that the presidential palace in the Plaza de Armas, or its predecessor built by Francisco Pizarro after the foundation of Lima in 1536, it was erected on top of the palace Taulichusco, the seat of the city government in pre-Columbian times.

The town hall of the colonial city was built in 1549 in another sacred place, the huaca Cabildo, and a temple dedicated to the god Puma Inti It was once where the cathedral is located.

The rest of huacas "for the most part they are unprotected, which is why they have been invaded by homeless families or turned into landfills or haven for criminals”, Says Luis Caceres, director of archeology at the Ministry of Culture.

Remains of a huaca

There are notable exceptions such as the Huacas Pucllana or Huallamarca, a vast pyramid from the 2nd century that today stands surrounded by a park and a museum. But most of Lima's huacas face an uncertain future due to the lack of funding for conservation projectsCaceres says.

The state cannot be responsible for everything. We think we need to work more closely with the local population”For the preservation of the huacas, says Jorge Silva, an archaeologist at the University of San Marcos.

An initiative launched in 2010 to make a great tourist attraction of 10 of Lima's huacas has not managed to take off Until now. For now, a campaign ‘save a huacaWhat you are looking to obtain private sector support for the protection of threatened sites offers the best hope for its preservation.

Graduated in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was little I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.

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